DEAR editor,

I read with interest the article ‘A recipe for disaster’ by Ross Hamilton of Australia in FJ last month. Although it is beyond doubt that fuel load makes a contribution to wildfires, I wasn’t convinced that the solution proposed of opening up the national parks to logging was not an even more certain recipe for disaster. Some sort of targeted intervention might have seemed less greedy.

I would have forgotten his name and the article had he not been quoted two days later on UK news sites following the discovery of dozens of dead, injured and starving koala bears in a recently felled blue gum plantation, claiming “it is absolutely certain that this was not a plantation or a forestry company”. Whatever the facts turn out to be, it seems difficult to imagine that a large commercial felling did not involve a logging company.

The Australian political class seem to feel destruction of the environment (both local and global) to be worthwhile for short-term profits. That gives confidence to the lawbreakers, but ultimately leads to a backlash that affects us all.

At the other end of this edition of FJ, we have a Bites from the Blog discussion about the public’s negative view of the industry. I agree with all the sentiments expressed, including about trees being ‘spiked’ to prevent their felling, but such extreme views in the activists may be a reaction to the extreme views of those few in the industry who attract negative publicity by bulldozing koalas or hedgerows. The frustration is that the public’s incomplete understanding leads to them spiking the goodies, not the baddies.

FJ properly reports on a range of views, but I wish some of its UK contributors too would bear in mind that what can be read as strong support for the industry can also be read as a justification to be reckless by the few wishing to put their personal ‘right to profits’ before the long-term value of the industry.

So, returning to Ross Hamilton’s plea to open up Australia’s national parks to commercial logging: after the international outrage over the koala massacre, there is no chance for a generation, regardless of the underlying facts. If we want the UK public to get on our side, we need to show them that the UK industry is on their side by making sure we, and our friends, colleagues (including journalists) and neighbours are in no doubt of the consequences of bad publicity and put the long-term value of the industry ahead of short-term personal profits.

Will Bond

MD, Alaska Ecological Contracting, Stokeford Farm, East Stoke, Wareham, Dorset BH20 6AN